Thursday, April 30, 2015

CBC's The National: At Issue Panel -- The Alberta Election

An archive of the At Issue features from the CBC's Flagship News program The National.

 April 30th edition: The Alberta Election

Voice of BC -- BC Ferries

A discussion of issues related to the operations of BC Ferries, one of the world's largest ferry corporations.

Voice of BC host Vaughn Palmer interviews Mike Corrigan, the Chief Executive Officer for BC Ferries.

April 30, 2015

Provincial Government gains favourable ruling from BC Court of Appeal over BCTF

British Columbia's highest court of Appeal has come down on the side of the Provincial government in the long running issue regarding the charter rights of British Columbia's teachers.

In a 4-1 decision today, the Court reversed two previous lower court decisions that had taken the side of the BCTF.

Key to the concerns of the ruling today for the BCTF will be the impact on class size and composition which made up the bulk of their success in the lower court rulings.

"The Province had certain policy objectives. It is not for this Court to comment on the desirability of those objectives, or to purport to decide, as the trial judge did, whether the collective agreement and legislative regime adequately met those objectives. 

Rather, our role is to decide whether Bill 22, having regard to both its content and the context in which it was enacted, substantially interfered with teachers’ s. 2(d) right to a meaningful process by which they could make collective representations to advance workplace goals and have those representations considered in good faith by the entity with the power to respond and give effect to them. 

While Bill 22 interfered with teachers’ freedom of association, the BCTF has not persuaded us that, on balance, that interference was “substantial”. We find no infringement of s. 2(d). This means Bill 22 has been in force since 14 April 2012." -- From the Summary of Today's BC Court of Appeals ruling, which resulted in a 4-1 decision in favour of the Provincial Government.

The majority decision was written by Chief Justice Robert Bauman and Justice Robert Harris, who spoke for the 4 of the 5 court judges on their ruling that the province had provided for good faith negotiations with the BCTF in the lead up to the legislation.

Justice Ian Donald was the sole dissenting voice from today's decision, making note of the decision of the lower courts and a decision from Justice Griffith from January of 2014, which ruled that the the provincial government had not consulted in good faith.

"In my opinion, the trial judge did not err in concluding that the unilateral nullification of the Working Conditions substantially interfered with the BCTF’s s. 2(d) rights and the Province did not give effect to those rights through good faith consultation, as the Province’s consultation efforts were not in good faith. 

  As such, I would dismiss the appeal in regard to the trial judge’s finding that Bill 22 is unconstitutional. I would allow the appeal in regard to the trial judge’s additional damages remedy and her declaration that Bill 28 was of no force or effect as of the date of its passage, but I would substitute a remedy pursuant to s. 24(1) of the Charter and order the Minister of Education to direct the public administrator for the BCPSEA appointed under s. 9.1 of the Public Sector Employers Act to reinstate the Working Conditions into the collective agreement immediately. " -- The Dissenting Conclusion from Justice Ian Donald from today's BC Court of Appeals ruling,

The BCTF can appeal the decision to the Supreme Court of Canada if it wishes, a path that the BCTF has taken in the past. However, they will have to make a decision on that course within sixty days and there is no guarantee that the Federal Court will hear their appeal.

The BCTF executive plans to outline their thoughts on today's developments through a press conference scheduled for 11:30 this morning, you can view that session through the link available here.

You can also review the full judgment from the British Columbia court here.

Some background on today's decision can be found below, we will add more items to the archive as they become available:

Friday reaction

Times-Colonist -- Little comfort for BCTF in court ruling

Thursday reaction

Global News -- B. C. Court of Appeal rules in favour of government over BCTF
CBC -- B.C. teachers court ruling: Premier Christy Clark 'very pleased'
CBC -- B.C. teachers lose right to bargain class size, composition
CTV BC -- Province did not violate teachers' charter rights, court rules
Vancouver Province -- B.C. Appeal Court sides with government in long-simmering dispute with teachers
Globe and Mail -- Appeal Court sides with B.C. government in bitter teachers dispute
The Tyee-- Court Sides with BC Gov't in Battle over Teacher Bargaining Rights
Vancouver Courier -- B. C. Teachers lose on class size

More items related to education in British Columbia and on the North Coast can be found on our archive page.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Province and Industry combine for trades training for First Nations

A major announcement on funding for trades training for First Nations was announced Wednesday at the Aboriginal Business Opportunities Conference in Prince Rupert.

During the Wednesday morning session John Rustad, British Columbia's Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation, outlined the background to a 1.2 million dollar pathways to success program for six First Nations communities in the Northwest.

“One of the great things about this program is that it helps First Nations members first get job-ready with the essential employment skills they need, and then connects them directly with jobs. This provides significant benefits for both First Nations members and their communities.”  -- Minister John Rustad, Provincial Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation,with an outline to the benefits of the trades program for Northwest First Nations.

The Trades program to be delivered in both Prince Rupert and Terrace by the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology will provide training opportunities for members of the Kitselas, Kitsumkalum, Lax Kw'alaams, Gitxaala, Metlakatla and Gitga'at communities.

600,000 dollars in funding will come from the Provincial Government, with the remaining 600,000 to be provided by three industry partners in the Northwest, BG Canada, LNG Canada and Pacific NorthWest LNG

“Skills training for First Nations people is a priority for our community. So it’s good see government and industry supporting training that will help ensure more members of our community benefit from jobs in the LNG industry.” -- Chief Clarence Inness, of Gitxaala on the training opportunities that the program will provide.

The announcement was included in Mr. Rustad's address to the convention delegates at the Lester Centre on Wednesday, a day which included a string of presentations from many of the large LNG proponents for the region as well as an overview on Port development from Don Krusel of the Prince Rupert Port Authority.

One of the major themes of each presentation was the opportunities, both in partnership and by way of employment that First Nations could have access to through Port and LNG development in the region in the years to come.

You can learn more about Wednesday's announcement from this background sheet from the Provincial Government. Included in that media release, are the comments from each of the three LNG proponents in the region and the enthusiasm that they have for the training program.

The Aboriginal Opportunities Conference comes to an end today, with the wrap up banquet and entertainment session planned for this evening.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

About our City Council Timeline for this week ...

By now, regular readers might be wondering where the regular feature of our City Council Timeline might be.

In a normal situation, for the most part we try to have our review of the most recent council session up to the blog within a couple of days of the regular Monday evening get togethers.

As part of that review, those that follow our work know that we like to make use of the City's Video Archive on You Tube.  Taking advantage of that video documentation, to provide some direction to those areas of interest that we think our readers might find interesting in their quest for more information on Council developments.

However, this week, to this point, the City has not yet placed the Video of the April 27th council session into permanent archive on their You Tube Portal.  And while we have heard that it may have appeared briefly on that video channel earlier this week, we personally never saw it there and as of today it remains absent from its usual archival placement.

This of course provides for a bit of a problem for our usual efforts, we found the Video archive quite useful for our purposes of information delivery. And while at times, the one or two hours of council discussion could border on tedious, the video archive provided a permanent record of Council's work, without the spin or filter that perhaps the local media might provide.

Beyond the usual Council timeline feature, we also found that the Council video archive provided our blog with a number of other stories to follow up on from Council, many of which didn't make it to the other local media sources for days, or weeks following, if at all.

Obviously without the video record of events, it's rather hard to try and deliver that feature, so for this week our output on Council matters will obviously be rather limited, unless the city eventually provides the account of their work on Monday at some point in the future.

What is of some note regarding the absence of the Council video archive this week, is the lack of explanation from anyone at City Hall regarding the change in normal procedure.  With no background  on the delay to a  process which usually takes place less than a day after the meeting.

You won't find any information on the situation from the city's website, though if you look over that portal of late, you will realize that the city is not making much use of their Internet presence these days.  A shift in focus which makes the only official online access to the city a barely used instrument of late and certainly not one that could be used as best as it could.

For the most part, anyone looking for information about the work that city council is engaged in, is seemingly being directed to the Mayor's Facebook page. Which while a helpful bit of information flow, does seem to focus only on those items that the Mayor believes we should know about.

Frequently, his selections and featured links to that portal highlight some rather positive articles regarding his work from the weekly newspaper, which at times seems to be more inclined to be the communications delivery outlet for the city more than anything else.

However, while Mayor Brain's Facebook option provides for frequent updates on the Mayor's many trips out of town in the last few months, and snippets of information on some of his larger initiatives (his LNG Go Plan for instance, something which still has not been publicly delivered to the residents of Prince Rupert or provided to the city's website for review); we apparently won't find out much it seems as to why the video from Monday's council session has yet to make its way to the City's Video  archive site.

Likewise, considering how active some members of Council have been of late on twitter and other social media options, the lack of any kind of information, or answers to questions regarding the absence of the Monday session is a bit puzzling.

The You Tube Video page was created in June of last year, during the last term of Mayor Jack Musallem. Its development was a vast improvement from the previous archival system of Council sessions and one which made access to Council sessions that much more easier for local residents.

That move by the City should be celebrated for its approach at forward thinking and dedication towards a bit of transparency and accountability, words that seem to get used a bit too much from our elected officials.

On that theme however, hopefully a bit of transparency will follow in this case and we'll get an answer as to why Monday's meeting isn't making the list of must see viewing this week.

Even better, we'd prefer that they just put the video up, as it was recorded on Monday, so we can all review what Council discussed on that evening.

There are indications that Monday's session was a fairly controversial one, particularly when it came to discussion related to a housing proposal for India Avenue. However, so far for the most part there is only rumour and incomplete public information as to what took place in Council this week.

The best way to learn what our Council is doing, is through an unfiltered lens, the Council video recordings provided for that option.  It allowed residents to make up their own minds on what kind of job the elected officials and city staff are doing on our behalf.

Of course you can't make your mind up, if you have no knowledge of what was discussed.

Update: Please note that the video archive of City Council for April 27th has now been made available through You Tube, you can review it here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

The plan to replace the marine outfall system for Metlakatla  is in full motion, with the Governing Council making application to the Provincial Government for the project.

The work will involve replacement of a 150 mm diameter outfall pipe for treated sewage and the realignment of the pipe route to provide for regulatory distance from shellfish beds, once the new pipe is place, the existing outfall will be abandoned and removed from the marine environment.

The plan calls for a pre-assembled pipeline to be floated into place and then flooded to lower it to the seafloor, secured with concrete weights to hold it in place.

The area in question for the project is located at the southeast corner of Mission Point within Venn Passage.

The work will take place during daylight hours and notices for mariners in the area will be issued through the Prince Rupert Coast Guard office.

Approval from the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations will be required before that work gets underway.

Towards that process, anyone with Comments related to the project has until May 28th to make their submissions related to the Metklatla plan known, you can review that opportunity here.

The full application can be reviewed here 

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Communication Workers union raises alarm over Coast Guard communications

A power failure last week at the Prince Rupert Coast Guard Communication centre is providing for a bit of ammunition for the union that represents communication workers in British Columbia.

Unifor Local 2182 which represents Coast Guard communication workers across the nation has launched an information campaign to try and reverse the Government's plans of consolidation of services.

Towards that campaign, they are making a fair amount of mileage out of the thirty minute power disruption of April 21st, which saw the Prince Rupert Communication Centre unable to transmit or receive calls for thirty minutes in the early hours of the day.

Coast Guard station hit by blackout, raising concerns about closings
Post-its help hold Prince Rupert MCTS together

The topic of the Prince Rupert power outage was the subject of a lengthy overview from Global BC last week, as a Unifor representative outlined the unions concerns over the issue of station closures.

Providing a bit more background to its message that the closure of similar communication stations on Vancouver Island is leaving mariners at risk.

As we outlined in February on the blog, the Coast Guard announced its plans to close stations at Vancouver, Tofino/Uclulet and Comox both on Vancouver Island, making the Prince Rupert station responsible for the largest swath of coverage along the Pacific coast.

Towards that responsibility the Prince Rupert station has been outfitted with new technology which
The Prince Rupert Coast
Guard station recently had
a 30 minute power failure,
spurring concerns over coverage
the Coast Guard says allows for the monitoring of larger areas of coverage.

The concerns over the Marine Communications shift has also been tied into the planned closures of other Coast guard facilities in the province.

Towards that issue Unifor has announced plans for a May 6th protest rally to speak out against the planned closure of the Kitsilano station.

The union has also launched an online petition campaign, with a direct link to the Prime Minister's office to deliver the opposition to the Government's plans for the Coast Guard.

Some of the previous concerns related to both issues can be reviewed below:

Business in Vancouver -- Marine Communications closure amps up Vancouver port safety concerns
Comox Valley Record -- Federal Candidates voice concern on Coast Guard Centre Closures
Victoria News -- Coast Guard hysteria sinks lower
Victoria News -- NDP introduces motion to reverse Coast Guard cuts
CBC-- Consolidation of Coast Guard Broadcast centres in final stages
CBC -- 3 Canadian Coast Guard communication centres closing in B. C.
North Shore News -- West Vancouver beaches remain closed after oil spill
Global BC-- Cuts to communication centres along B. C. coast (video)

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

National Aboriginal Opportunities Conference launches today in Prince Rupert

Three days of networking opportunities for First Nations businesses and community leaders will be in motion today as the National Aboriginal Business Opportunities Conference opens at the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre.

Today is given over to registration and hospitality events planned for this evening as delegates begin to make their way to the city.

The event which runs through until Thursday will feature over 500 delegates, with all day sessions set for Wednesday and Thursday.

Day 1 features a range of activities and information opportunities for delegates to take advantage of starting with the opening remarks for the Conference tomorrow which will feature Chief Harold Leighton, Mayor Garry Reece and Mayor Lee Brain providing the welcoming notes to those attending the conference.

From there Day one features information sessions related to the Tslihqot'in Decision, Updates on the 6 major LNG projects proposed for the Northwest as well as an address from Port of Prince Rupert CEO Don Krusel who will outline the future vision for the Port.

Both Metklaktla and Lax Kw'alaams will bring the official items of Day one to an end, hosting an information session outlining the economic progress and capacity building for their communities.

The National Aboriginal Business
Opportunities Conference is taking place
at two locations in Prince Rupert this week
Delegates will return to the Civic Centre from 5 to 7 for a Hospitality Event to bring Day one to an

Day Two provides for one on one delegate meetings and a visit to the accompanying trade show at the Civic Centre. That event features over 84 exhibitors ready to provide more background on what they have to offer and to answer any number of questions from delegates.

For those that are inclined there is also an opportunity to take part in the Charity Golf Tournament scheduled for Thursday morning.

There is also an optional tour of the Harbour area, with a focus on the sites of the proposed LNG developments for the region included on the tour.

Workshops however make up the bulk of the Day Two events, with a number of sessions planned for the North Coast Convention Centre at the Chances complex on First Avenue West.

Gordon Wilson the Provincial representative for the LNG-Buy BC Program hosts the opening session from 9:30-10:30 providing an overview on the LNG opportunities as well as other natural resources projects.

Bill Boyte representing the Provincial Employer's Advisers Office, will discuss workplace health and safety programs, his session runs from 10:45-11:45 AM

The Keynote address for the two day conference comes up on Thursday afternoon, as Dan George the President and CEO of Four Directions Management Services shares his experiences of working to forward the interests of Canada's aboriginal peoples.

Workshops three and four bring the official portion of Day two to an end as Project Financing and Leasing opportunities get a review from 1:45 to 2:45 PM, while delegates can learn more about the Aboriginal Construction Craft Worker Foundation Program from 2:45 to 3:45 PM.

The conference comes to an end with the Banquet Dinner at the North Coast Convention Centre from 6:30 to 8:30 followed by an evening of entertainment at the Lester Centre until Midnight.

None of the events are open to the public, with only delegates and participants in the Trade Show and discussion sessions allowed access to the three days of conference events.

You can learn more about the conference from this overview from the event organizers.

NOTE:  CFNR is streaming live the events of the conference, you can view their feed here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Monday, April 27, 2015

CBC's The Insiders: How to Fix a Losing Campaign

Our archive of the Insiders segment of the National, the flagship news program from the CBC, featuring political insiders reviewing political events.

April 27: How to Fix a Losing Campaign

Community Group to outline concerns over CBC programming for Council tonight

The topic of Public Broadcasting on the North Coast will get a review this evening at Prince Rupert City Council, as a local group makes plans to provide a presentation to Council.

The Northwest B. C. Citizens for CFPR have asked for an opportunity to outline their concerns as part of tonight's Committee of the Whole Session, where the group represented by Kathleen Palm will offer up some of goals and projects related to their oversight of public broadcasting in the region.

At tonight's session they will make their case for the restoration and maintenance of the CBC CFPR broadcasts in the area, with a particular concern related to news, programming and the delivery of emergency information.

You can review some of their talking points from the Committee of the Whole agenda from page two here.

It's not the first time that local residents have outlined their concerns over the state of the public broadcaster's efforts in the region.

In what seems like an almost annual event now, those dedicated CBC listeners in the region are making use of Prince Rupert city Council to share their message.

Last year, they appeared at council to express many of the same concerns, finding come common ground with many of the council members.  In addition to the local politicians, NDP MP Nathan Cullen also has been a frequent critic of the CBC's approach to news in the regions.

More on communications on the North Coast can be found here.

Some of the background on their thoughts at that time and other issues related to CBC programming can be found below:

September 8 -- Daybreak North adds features to website, providing more in depth coverage for Northern BC
April 2014 -- Nathan Cullen has rural concerns over CBC cuts
February 2014 -- CBC executives respond to Prince Rupert Council's concerns over local content
February 2014 -- City Council has concerns over CBC Programming on the North Coast
February 2014 -- Is a North Coast revolt brewing among CBC's Daybreak North listeners?

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Civc Centre rent once again an issue for a local group.

The topic of the rent for Civic Centre facilities for local groups will once again be brought to the attention of City Council tonight, as a delegation from the 2015 Grad Parents appear at the Committee of the Whole session.

The group will be outlining their concern over the cost of the rent for the Civic Centre facility and how it is impacting on their budget for Prom celebrations for 2015.

In a letter to Council requesting an opportunity to appear at Council, the Grad Parent executive called attention to the non-profit nature of their organization and the difference between it and other community organizations.

They are seeking a long term grant in kind, low cost agreement for the use of the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre for this year and the years to follow.

You can review the full letter to Council from the Committee of the Whole Agenda for tonight, it can be found on page three.

The 2015 Grad Parents Executive is requesting that Mayor and Council recognize the importance of this Community event and provide a grant in kind long term, low cost agreement for use of the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre for the 2015 Annual Graduation Prom celebration and for future Graduation Prom celebrations held in the facility. -- Portion of a letter to Prince Rupert Council from the 2015 Grad Parents executive on the cost of rent for the Civic Centre

It's not the first time this year that Council has heard from a community group about the city's rental policies for the Civic Centre, earlier this month, the 2015 Homecoming Committee appeared in front of council to seek some form of assistance on the rent for this year's event schedule for May.

April 2015 -- Homecoming Committee Rent reduction request to be examined by city staff
April 2015 -- Homecoming Committee has concerns over rent of Civic Centre for May event

You can review more of City Council's discussion points from our archive page here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Public Hearing and further consideration of India Avenue Housing proposal by Council this evening

The final steps towards a possible redevelopment of the old Baptist Church on India Avenue into housing units takes place this evening at Prince Rupert City Council.

The first item of consideration on the night will be the Public Hearing into the proposed development, where those residents who may have comments or may be affected by the project can offer their comments to Council members.

You can learn more about that process from the Agenda for the Public Hearing which starts at 7 PM in Council Chambers.

Following the Public Hearing, Council will then consider three Bylaw issues related to the proposed development, the Zoning Application, the Application for a Variance Permit and the Application for the Development permit for a Multi-Family Development.

Council will make note of the public comment from the Public Hearing as part of their consideration of the Bylaw items.  Sometimes towards the end of this evening's session we will learn if Council approves of the development or if there are any issues that may give them cause to delay approval of the proposed development.

You can review the full overview of the Bylaw issues from the Council agenda for tonight here.

More background on the India Avenue proposal can be found from our Housing archive page.

For more items related to City Council discussions see our archive page here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

MLA's week, April 20-23, 2015

Back from our week away from the blog, we're playing a bit of catch up on events out of Victoria for the week just past.

For our weekly review a couple of items of note on the work of Jennifer Rice the MLA for the North Coast over the last four days of the Legislative session.

Ms. Rice, the North Coast's representative was listed twice in the archive of participants for the twelve sessions of the Legislature in the House, or those related to House Committee work listed for the week of April 20-24.

Her first appearance, questions for the Provincial government related to past inquiries on government openness and transparency.

You can review her questions from the Monday session of April 20th here.

On Tuesday, Ms. Rice offered up a testimony to the work of the Eco Trust in the Prince Rupert region, celebrating their 5th anniversary in the community and 20 years of work in the province.

You can watch her statement to the legislature here.

As for her committee work, MLA Rice is a member of the Standing Committee on Children and Youth.  

That committee did not have any sessions scheduled during last week.

The Legislature returns to work this morning.

There is more background on the North Coast MLA available from our MLA's Week archive as well as our General Archive on the Legislature.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Sunday, April 26, 2015

April 26th -- CBC Radio's Cross Country Check Up -- What are your thoughts on the Federal Budget?

Rex Murphy reviews the some background from the Federal Budget as part of  this weeks edition of Cross country Check Up, asking the question "What are your thoughts on the Federal Budget?".

April 26th edition (audio)

Global TV: The West Block -- The Federal Budget and money for Transportation,impact of new security regulations on jobs

Archive items from Global Television's National Politics Program The West Block.

April 26

A look at The Federal Budget for transportation, sweeping new security regulations and the impact on jobs, MP Laurie Hawn in conversation.

Friday, April 24, 2015

"In the House - with Michael Smyth" -- April 24th edition

Province columnist Michael Smyth discusses the shooting death of Arun Bains, the 22 year old nephew of NDP MLA Harry Bains.

In The House April 24 (audio)

Subscribe to the feed here

Thursday, April 23, 2015

CBC's The National: At Issue Panel -- Joe Oliver's "Granddaughter" Line

An archive of the At Issue features from the CBC's Flagship News program The National.

 April 23rd  edition: Joe Oliver's "Granddaughter" Line

Voice of BC -- BC NDP Politics

A discussion on the NDP in British Columbia and whether the opposition party finally has its game back.

Voice of BC host Vaughn Palmer interviews the NDP's Mike Farnworth and David Eby

April 23, 2015

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

CBC's The National: At Issue Panel -- The Politics of the Budget

An archive of the At Issue features from the CBC's Flagship News program The National.

April 21st edition: The Politics of the Budget

Sunday, April 19, 2015

April 19 -- CBC's Cross Country Check Up -- Should a coalition government be a clear option in the coming Federal election campaign

Rex Murphy explores the possibility of a coalition government coming out of this falls election as part of this weeks edition of Cross country Check Up, asking the question "Should a coalition government be a clear option in the coming federal election campaign?".

April 19th edition (audio)

Global TV: The West Block -- The election is six months out, a preview of the Federal budget and the Mike Duffy trial continues

Archive items from Global Television's National Politics Program The West Block.

April 19

A look at the countdown to an election in six months, a preview of the Federal budget and the Mike Duffy trial continues.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

MLA's week April 13-16

After a two week break from their duties, the province's MLA's returned to their desks in the Legislature this week, marking the first work in Legislative session following the Easter break.

However, for the North Coast's MLA, the public aspect of the work week would be rather low key. With no contributions noted, other than for votes, over the four days of Legislative work this week.

Ms. Rice, the North Coast's representative was not listed once in the archive of participants for the twelve sessions of the Legislature in the House, or those related to House Committee work listed for the week of April 13-16.

As for her committee work, MLA Rice is a member of the Standing Committee on Children and Youth.  

That committee met on April 13 , though Ms. Rice is not mentioned during the course of the minutes for that session.

The Legislature returns to work on Monday morning.

There is more background on the North Coast MLA available from our MLA's Week archive as well as our General Archive on the Legislature.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Friday, April 17, 2015

"In the House - with Michael Smyth" -- April 17th edition

Province columnist Michael Smyth looks at the controversial sale of Crown land in Coquitlam.

In The House April 17 (audio)

Subscribe to the feed here

Prince Rupert Council may have some fences to mend with the School District

SD52 officials are not happy with
the way their concerns were
received by Prince Rupert Council
The reception that the School District received as part of its presentation to the Public Hearing into the Canadian Freightways yard on Monday night seems to have provided for some disappointment for the Board of Education officials.

As we outlined on the blog yesterday, the School District provided its objections to the planned rezoning of the land along Highway 16 near Frederick Street, concerned over the potential impact that the planned increase in industrial activity may have on land that they are attempting to sell at the old Kanata School site.

During that Hearing process, Council members did not appear to accept those concerns as valid, with Councillors Thorkelson and Cunningham in particular taking up the talking points on behalf of the city and any impact that rezoning might have on the Board of Educations land sale ambitions.

In fact, at Monday's council session City Council moved the zoning issue forward and addressed it again in a special session of Council held on Thursday.

On Wednesday evening, CFTK TV outlined that the reaction from Council has not been greeted well by School Board officials, with Chair Tina Last outlining the concerns that the Board of Education had with the reception.

The Canadian Freightways issue, marks the second time in recent months that the School District and City of Prince Rupert have been at odds over a proposed development plan.

Last year, the Board of Education raised its objections to the City's plan to develop the old dump on Wantage road into work camp like housing for proposed LNG and other major projects should they arrive on the North coast.

Similar to how events unfolded on Monday evening, during that December hearing, Council members seemed to suggest that the School District concerns did not carry enough weight to sidetrack their plans, though it should be noted that the proposed work camp site hasn't had much forward momentum since that time.

Still, that's two for two when it comes to contentious issues between the School District and City Council.  Making for a bit of an uncomfortable gap when it comes to Mayor Lee Brain's recent commitments towards better engagement between the City and other regional stakeholders.

It's ironic in a way, that while the City expresses concerns over how the Province is treating the city and seeks to build alliances with city residents and with other communities, that one relationship quite close to home seems in a bit of disarray at the moment.

In the past, City Council members have suggested the need for more frequent exchanges of ideas with School Board officials, noting that the two groups haven't of late had opportunity to get together and discuss issues of mutual concern.

After the last few months, it would seem that it might be timely for the Mayor and Council to reach out to School Board officials, looking to seek out some common ground on the growing irritations between to the two groups.

For more items related to School District developments see our archive page here, further background on City issues can be found on our  City Council Discussion archive page here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

CN Rail looks to expand infrastructure in BC and Alberta

A CN freight train travels along
the Skeena (from CN website)
Those remarkable turn around times for shipments in and out of the Port of Prince Rupert may soon be even more impressive, as CN Rail announces plans to improve and add to its infrastructure across Western Canada.

On Thursday, the national railway outlined the nature of a $500 million capital program to upgrade Western Canadian feeder lines, with a key focus on railway lines in the Peace area of BC and Alberta.

Those improvements should provide dividends for the Port of Prince Rupert, a large volume of grain and minerals travel the rails from that area to port facilities.

As well, CN will be upgrading the main line between  Edmonton and Winnipeg with double tracking and extended sidings.

That important stretch is a key portion of CN's gateway to the US, which provides container services from the Port of Prince Rupert to such American cities as Chicago and Memphis.

You can read the background on the upgrade plan here.

It's likely that more improvements will come to CN"s presence on the North Coast as well, with expansion plans now underway for Fairview Terminal.

The container Port at Prince Rupert has become one of the major selling points for CN's transportation strategy, recently hailed by the railway in a video presentation.

The announcement of Thursday is considered by many as an answer to recent derailments across Western Canada and as a way to improve shipment times.

April 16 -- CN Rail spending $500-million to upgrade network in Western Canada after string of derailments
April 16-- CN Rail to spend $500M to improve feeder lines in Western Canada
April 16 -- CN, beset by derailments, to upgrade Western Canada network

For more items related to CN's impact across Northern BC see our archive page here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Coroners Public inquest announced for Prince Rupert tragedy of April 2014

It has been just over one year since Prince Rupert residents learned of the deaths of Angela and Robert Robinson, a tragic incident which left much of the community in shock, with many vowing to become advocates for families dealing with autism and other special needs.

Ms. Robinson and her son were discovered in their family home on April 3rd of last year, their story of struggles in recent years, one which raised concerns over services available to local families and the need to address the issues that led to the events of that day.

One year later, the BC Coroners service will start that process of review, announcing on Thursday that a Public Inquest will be held into the deaths.

Presiding coroner Michael Egilson and a jury will hear evidence from witnesses under oath, looking to determine the facts surrounding the deaths.

The inquest will provide for a formal process to allow for public presentation related to the case, with the jury empowered to have the opportunity to make recommendations aimed a preventing deaths under similar circumstances.

No date and place for the inquest has been announced as of yet, with the BC Coroners service
advising that they will outline the process ahead as soon as they have confirmed the timeline and location for the inquest.

You can learn more on the Inquest announcement from this notice from the Coroners Service.

The Prince Rupert incident was one that was not only raised in the Legislature, but was also addressed by Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, the province's Representative for Children and Youth.

In the days following the tragedy Ms. Turpel-Lafond vowed to review the case carefully, indicating that it was an incident of great concern for her office.

The Coroner's Inquest will be one additional element towards making the provincial government aware of the need to improve its services to families faced with issues that can quickly move far beyond their control.

The Prince Rupert tragedy received much attention in the days and weeks following, some background on those events of April 2014 can be found below:

May 2014 -- MLA Rice takes local concerns on support for families to Committee room
May 2014 -- MLA Rice speaks to mental health issues for rural and coastal communities
April 2014 -- When autistic children are murdered, are they treated as victims or triggers?
April 2014 -- B. C.'s advocate of children blasts government following mother-son suicide
April 2014 -- Prince Rupert tragedy a call to action on youth care, advocate says
April 2014 -- Murder-suicide of Prince Rupert, BC mother, autistic son under review
April 2014 -- Distraught mother kills herself, and son with severe autism
April 2014 -- Angie and Robert's Family seeks support from Inclusion BC to push province to help families dealing with autism

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Thursday, April 16, 2015

CBC's The National: At Issue Panel -- Who's Really on trial: Duffy or the Senate

An archive of the At Issue features from the CBC's Flagship News program The National.

April 16th edition: Who's really on trial: Duffy or the Senate

Voice of B. C. -- Transportation Issues with Minister Todd Stone

A discussion on Transportation issues in British Columbia. As Voice of BC host Vaughn Palmer interviews British Columbia Cabinet Minister Todd Stone on a range of topics on the theme.

April 16, 2015

Councillor Thorkelson's historical review: City of Prince Rupert faced potential Provincial trusteeship in 2005

Councillor Thorkelson captivated
Council on Monday with her review of
some financial issues of 2005
An interesting account of the dark financial days of 2005 was recounted for City Council on Monday evening, as Councillor Joy Thorkelson, speaking as part of the discussion on the current bylaw process for the city's statutory funds, provided a bit of a history lesson on financials for her fellow council members.

The Current Statutory Reserve bylaw under consideration identifies four funds that will require bylaw motions, they included

Ms. Thorkelson as one of the veteran members of city council, gathered the young newcomers around the Council campfire, telling of a ghost story of ten years ago, where the city's financial predicament was apparently so dire, that we were perhaps on the cusp of being taken over by the province.

As part of her review of the events of ten years ago, Councillor Thorkelson noted how the city had been required to use up Statutory Funds in 2005 in order to keep the city afloat.

Councillor Thorkelson used the background information on those tense times for the city, to counsel the council members to approach their current Statutory Reserve Funds process with caution.

"Well maybe at the end of a long meeting, maybe what we can do is  just pass this. But  I would like for one to be clear, I was in a council that was at the end of a council and had to eat all of it statutory funds and there were some funds in order to keep the city afloat.  I mean you have to realize that in 2005, that we were on the verge of going into, being taken over and put into trusteeship by provincial government. And so went and used up all of our reserve funds and I believe dipped into funds we were not allowed to use which were statutory funds." -- Councillor Thorkelson providing a history lesson for Council members on past financial issues of some importance and the consequences from them 

She further stated that it's important that Council by name have knowledge of which funds are required by the Province for the city have on hand, with Councillor Thorkelson providing some examples of areas where some funds could lock up money that the city could not access.

The story related to those events of 2005 makes for some rather fascinating  background on those times and no doubt is a tale that perhaps more than a few residents of the city were  not aware of.

Perhaps Councillor Thorkelson,with her past experience on Council could offer up more background regarding that period of time not only for Council members but for the city residents as well. Providing more details on those tension filled times and expanding on that glimpse as to how close the city came to trusteeship status and what impact that would have had on the city.

As well, she might be able to offer up some notes as to what lessons, if any council may have learned from those dire moments of a decade ago.

More on her talking points and some background on the Statutory Bylaw discussions that preceded her review can be found on our City Council Timeline feature here.

You can review her history lesson for Council as part of the City's Video Archive, it starts at the 2 hour mark

For more items related to City Council discussions, see our archive page here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Prince Rupert Council and Lax Kw'alaams Council meet in day long session

An extension of the Community to Community sessions took place yesterday, as members of Prince Rupert City Council and those from the Council at Lax Kw'alaams spent the day together, discussing a range of topics of mutual concern.

The planned session was first outlined by Mayor Lee Brain at Monday's City Council session, with the mayor making note of the opportunity to share ideas that the session would provide for.

Among the topics that were to be covered at Wednesday's session were regional partnerships, LNG issues and a follow up on some of the discussions from a recent Community to Community meeting.

You can get a glimpse of what value the Mayor attaches to these sessions through his update to Council of Monday evening, it comes up near the end of Monday's meeting at the 2 hour four minute mark of the City's Video Council archive.

For more items related to Monday's Council session see our Timeline feature.

Background on discussion topics at Council can reviewed from our archive page here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

City staff highlights the merits of the Rushbrook Improvement Area fund for Council

The City's Tanya Ostrom outlined the
success of the city's efforts with the
Rushbrook Improvement Area over the years
While there may be a few residents that take issue to the rates that are charged, for the most part the City's Rushbrook Improvement Fund is being called a success, at least according to a presentation by city staff on Monday evening.

Ms. Tanya Ostrom, the City's Assistant Operations Manager delivered the fourteen minute review of the program that laid out the improvements that the fund has delivered to the area, while stressing more than a few times that the funding for the work at Rushbrook has come from revenues collected from those that use the site and not the city's taxpayers.

As part of the presentation there was a bit of a historical look back at what the program has delivered to this point, the studies that the city has conducted with users to determine the success of the program and what rates were to be set as part of it.

Along the way, Ms. Ostrom also outlined the plan ahead for 2015, where 200,000 dollars has been allocated for work on the boat launch ramp areas, with pre-cast concrete panels and rip rock to be put in place for the much anticipated improvement to the facility.

However, there was a warning that once the boat launch project has been completed, the Rushbrook Improvement Fund reserves will be depleted, a situation that will require some decisions from Council should the next item on the to do list for the area look to gain any forward momentum.

The next proposed improvement is work on the Marine Dock at Rushbrook, a rather comprehensive project that is to be tackled in phases, but that will only get consideration once there is money available from the fund to make it feasible.
Rates may increase for 2016 to help fund
further improvements for the area

Towards furthering the work of the Rushbrook Improvement Fund, Ms. Ostrom recommended that Council give consideration to raising the rates at the Floats for 2016, noting that even though increases were to be put in place in 2008, none have been implemented to date.

"Council support to continue with the pay parking area at Rushbrook is key to the viability of this area, it is crucial to continue with the current process that is working very well operationally and financially " --  Tanya Ostrom, Assistant Public Works Manager, providing an overview on the Rushbrook Improvement Area for Prince Rupert council on Monday evening.

Following her overview, Council members asked for some background on such things as rates charged for charter boat operators and out of town operators,  the difference in number of passes purchased at winter as opposed to the rest of the year, as well as the breakdown between commercial and sport fishermen using the area.

And while she did not have those details readily available, Ms. Ostrom noted that City staff will try to assemble as much of it as possible for council for their future review on the Rushbrook program.

More on the presentation can be found on our Council Timeline feature.

You can also review the full presentation from the City's Video Archive. It runs from the  56 minute mark to the 1 hour ten minute point.

For more items related to Civic waterfront issues see our archive page here.

For background on City Council discussions see our archive page here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Proposed Annunciation lane closure, prompts parking concerns from United Church

A delegation from the United Church
appeared at Council on Monday,
expressing concerns on a proposed
lane closure
It has become an ages old discussion between the two churches in the city and a proposal to close the lane between the two churches has once again stirred up the theme of parking in the area.

At the heart of Council's Monday discussions was a bit of housekeeping required regarding a land exchange between the City and Annunciation parish, with one of the items related to it the request of Annunciation to have the lane access closed.

Part of that request according to the city might be related to potential expansion of the School on the property, which is where the United Church seemingly has seen a red flag. With the prospect that those parishioners who used the school playground for parking on Sundays and for other events will suddenly be flooding the neighbouring streets with cars.

Council found itself in the midst of what appears to be an issue that has been a long running thorn between the two churches, and on Monday did its best to try and be a moderator of sorts on the issue, though while maintaining that the lane closure bylaw under discussion wasn't of particular concern to the larger issue of the parking concerns.

To try and deliver a bit of clarity on the topic, the City Manager Robert Long offered up some background on the past conversations related to the issue and noted that for the City the issue is a simple road closure issue and that Annunciation had made a fairly legitimate case for that to move forward.

A proposed lane closure between Annunciation and
the United Church is proving to be a bit contentious

The delegation from the United Church offered up their concerns and belief that Council is required to hold Annunciation to its parking requirements, regardless of the change of the status of the lane in question and any future plans that might take place.

On that theme Council heard from City staff, that should Annunciation have development plans in mind for the property, they would require a building permit and that the parish would have to address the parking requirement issue at the time of any development permit stage.

Monday's discussion provided for a range of potential scenarios that could be in suggested for Annunciation to address the parking concerns, a number of which might require the purchase of nearby property to keep to the spirit of the parking issue.

The topic of parking will most likely remain a lively one, not only between Annunciation and the United Church, but with City Council with a number of Council members looking for further clarification on the issue.

As for the lane closure bylaw, Council voted on Monday to approve the motion.

The topic receive two overviews on the night, the first came from the presentation from the delegation from the United Church, which can be found on the City's Video Archive at the 43 minute mark.

The second was the review of the report from the Engineering Department and the review of Council on the issue, it can be found at the one hour eighteen minute mark.

More background on the topic of Monday evening can be found from our Council Timeline feature.

For further notes related to City Council discussions can be found on our Archive page here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

India Avenue housing proposal moves forward to Public Hearing stage

Mr. Geoff Greenwell provided
City Council with an update on his
India Avenue housing proposal
Prince Rupert council received an update from the proponent of a proposed housing development on the east side of the city, as Geoff Greenwell from the  2 G  Group provided a short overview of the steps he has taken to this point to move his project further ahead.

Mr. Greenwell outlined the nature of his plans for the old Bethel Baptist Church, which should he receive the approval of council, will be turned into upscale housing known as the Mountain View Executive Estates.  A seventeen unit housing project that is designed to try and reduce the crunch on housing that might come from increased economic development in the city.

He outlined the nature of the housing in question and addressed a number of concerns from Council members regarding some of the past issues that had been noted about the proposed development.

Among those concerns, issues related to parking and the designation of the project as a boarding house, which as he explained was more the nature of the city's zoning designation than a definition of the proposed development.

You can get a wider overview of his presentation from our City Council timeline feature, as well you can watch the presentation to Council from the City's Video Archive  it starts at the 29 minute make and continues until the 43 minute point.

Later in the Council session, Council heard from the City Planner Zeno Krekic, who provided his final review of the process, making note of his observations on the property in question with his recommendation that, should it should go to the Public Hearing phase once the proponent addresses a few concerns from the Engineering department.

Councillor Thorkelson added one final observation to the process, noting that her earlier concerns regarding the nature of the housing to be created had been satisfied, as she no longer was worried that the project could at some point fall into disrepair.  She noted that at the price point that the proponent had set (1800-2500 per month for rent) she believes that the building would be well maintained into the future.

You can review all of those discussion points from the City's Video archive from the 1 hour eighteen minute mark, the conversation continues on for about ten minutes.

Council in the end voted to approve the second reading of the bylaw and move the process to a Public Hearing, that will taken place prior to the April 27th Council session, schedule to start at 7 PM.

For more items related to Housing in the community see our archive page here.

Additional items from City Council discussions can be found on our archive page.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review.

Despite concerns from School District 52, Prince Rupert Council moves Quickload Terminals rezoning forward

On Monday Council moved forward
the process for zoning changes
required for the old
Canadian Freightways yard
The prospect of Quickload Terminals setting up shop in the old Canadian Freightways yard off of Frederick Street moved a step closer on Monday evening as City Council, after hearing a number of presentations in a Public hearing, voted to move ahead with rezoning of the property to allow for Quickload's operations.

The process of that approval started with the Public Hearing, a thirty minute session where those in favour of the project, including the proponents and those in opposition to the rezoning had a chance to speak on the issue.

On the against side was School District 52, with Cameron McIntyre representing the delegation at the table, outlining a number of concerns that the School District has with an expanded industrial zoning designation for the site in question.

The bulk of their concern related to the impact that increased industrial activity on the property might Kanata school property, a process that the School District hopes to see come to a successful conclusion soon.
impact their attempts to sell the old

A delegation from SD52
outlined their concerns related to
a proposed zoning change for the old
Canadian freight ways yard
Mr. McIntyre laid out the objections of the Board of Education, as the first speaker of the public hearing, his observations related to the impact of the zoning change found a bit of a challenge from Councillor Joy Thorkelson.

She pointed out that if the City were to hold back on its approval of the zoning change it would be reducing its opportunity to receive revenue from the site, while the School District worked to come to a decision on some undeveloped land.

Adding that in effect, if the city were to do that, the School District would it seems be asking the City not to draw any revenue from the industrial property in question.

"Are you asking us to sit on our property so that as your property increases in value, that we are not going to draw value from our property"  -- one of a number of observations from Councillor Thorkelson related to objections from the School District regarding zoning changes being considered for the Canadian Freightways yard. 

Also speaking at the Public hearing were the proponents of the shift of Quickload to the Canadian Freightways site, with the group of four in attendance highlighting how Quickload wanted to remain in the Prince Rupert area, providing revenue for the city and offering employment for the city's residents.

They also noted that there is not much in the way of industrial land within the city limits to choose from, noting that the Canadian Freightways site is one that they believe is the one that best meets their needs.

It was also noted that on adjoining property was already zoned at the M2 level, so the impact most likely would not be much different than what currently is in place, the proponents also advised that they would abide by any City of Prince Rupert Noise bylaws and would address any issues with neighbours as they came along.

When Council turned to the actual mechanics of the Bylaw, they received a report from the City Planner who provided a short overview of the process, noting that the City was still awaiting some feedback from the province, so approval of a development permit would have to be deferred until that information was received.

In the end, Council did not appear to find merit in the concerns of the School District and voted to approve third reading for the zoning application.  With further movement on the issue to come when they are to look at the Development permit phase.

You can review the Public Hearing related to the proposed zoning change from the City's Video Archive it starts at the very beginning of the evening, the Council discussion and vote on the zoning issue can be found later in the evening at the one hour

A full overview of both the public hearing and council review can be found on our City Council Timeline feature.

The appearance from the School District officials marks the second time in recent months where the Board of Education has found itself speaking against a proposed zoning change by the city.

The School District most recently appeared in late 2014, expressing concerns related to a proposed work camp housing project on Wantage Road, at the site of the city's old dump lands.

For more items related to City Council discussions see our archive page.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review.